Editor’s note: This article was published before the coronavirus pandemic, and may not reflect the current situation on the ground.

They’ve been called ‘the vainest tribe in the world’ and, once a year, Chad’s Wodaabe nomads get dressed up and dance for hours in the stifling sun in an attempt to attract a mate. Photographer Tariq Zaidi pays them a visit.

Dawn breaks in the semi-desert Sahel region of landlocked Chad. Nearby, a woman is already shaking a calabash, churning the cow’s milk into yogurt for breakfast. Work begins early in the desert.

But today, the nomadic Wodaabe will not just tend to their cattle, or pack up their rudimentary shelters and start moving to new pastures. It’s 6am, and one herdsman is already applying his ochre-red foundation in anticipation of tonight’s festivities: It’s Gerewol time.